Lloyd Corp., Ltd. v. Tanner,
407 U.S. 551 (1972)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Lloyd Corp., Ltd. v. Tanner, 407 U.S. 551 (1972)

Lloyd Corp., Ltd. v. Tanner

No. 71-492

Argued April 18, 1972

Decided June 22, 1972

407 U.S. 551


Respondents sought to distribute handbills in the interior mall area of petitioner's large privately owned shopping center. Petitioner had a strict no-handbilling rule. Petitioner's security guards requested respondents under threat of arrest to stop the handbilling, suggesting that they could resume their activities on the public streets and sidewalks adjacent to but outside the center, which respondents did. Respondents, claiming that petitioner's action violated their First Amendment rights, thereafter brought this action for injunctive and declaratory relief. The District Court, stressing that the center is "open to the general public" and "the functional equivalent of a public business district," and relying on Marsh v. Alabama, 326 U. S. 501, and Amalgamated Food Employees Union v. Logan Valley Plaza, 391 U. S. 308, held that petitioner's policy of prohibiting handbilling within the mall violated respondents' First Amendment rights. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

Held: There has been no dedication of petitioner's privately owned and operated shopping center to public use so as to entitle respondents to exercise First Amendment rights therein that are unrelated to the center's operations, and petitioner's property did not lose its private character and its right to protection under the Fourteenth Amendment merely because the public is generally invited to use it for the purpose of doing business with petitioner's tenants. The facts in this case are significantly different from those in Marsh, supra, which involved a company town with "all the attributes" of a municipality, and Logan Valley, supra, which involved labor picketing designed to convey a message to patrons of a particular store, so located in the center of a large private enclave as to preclude other reasonable access to store patrons. Under the circumstances present in this case, where the handbilling was unrelated to any activity within the center and where respondents had adequate alternative means of communication, the courts below erred in holding those decisions controlling. Pp. 407 U. S. 556-570.

446 F.2d 545, reversed and remanded.

Page 407 U. S. 552

POWELL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and WHITE, BLACKMUN, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which DOUGLAS, BRENNAN, and STEWART, JJ., joined, post, p. 407 U. S. 570.

Primary Holding

Shopping centers can forbid the dissemination of handbills unrelated to their operations despite the First Amendment.


The Lloyd Center was a large private shopping center that covered several blocks of a city and was surrounded by public sidewalks and streets. When demonstrators sought to protest the Vietnam War by distributing handbills in the mall, its guards ordered them to stop the handbilling in the mall and told them that they could be arrested if they persisted. The guards advised the protestors to continue their activities on the public sidewalks and streets outside the center, and they did. However, they later sued the shopping center for injunctive and declaratory relief on the grounds that their First Amendment rights had been violated. They prevailed in the lower court, which ruled that the mall was open to the public and served as the functional equivalent of a public business district.



  • Lewis Franklin Powell, Jr. (Author)
  • Warren Earl Burger
  • Byron Raymond White
  • Harry Andrew Blackmun
  • William Hubbs Rehnquist

This case may be distinguished from Marsh v. Alabama (1946) and Amalgamated Food Employees Union v. Logan Valley Plaza (1968). In those cases, there were no reasonably available alternative forums to communicate the message of the speakers, and the message was connected to the specific venue where it was transmitted. Here, on the other hand, the message of the protestors had no connection to the site where they were transmitting it, and the surrounding public sidewalks and streets provided a sufficient alternative. All of the mall's customers used these areas while going back and forth to the mall, so they reached the same audience that they would have reached inside the mall. This situation allowed the shopping center to retain its private character for First Amendment purposes, even though it is open to the public.


  • Thurgood Marshall (Author)
  • William Orville Douglas
  • William Joseph Brennan, Jr.
  • Potter Stewart

Case Commentary

While it is permissible to speak out against a private actor without restriction, a private actor does not need to offer a forum for that speech unless it is related to the private actor and there are no other ways to communicate the speech.

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